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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
James Fegan

Yoan Moncada’s four-hit day evidence that he’s feeling good again

Yoan Moncada singles in the first inning Sunday against the A’s. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Yoan Moncada was brilliant in the first two series of the 2023 season and reaggravated his back in the third. A lost season of multiple monthlong injured-list stints and lost mechanics can be tracked from the emergence of a protruding disk in his lower back.

“He had a tough injury when it comes to trying to keep your mechanics consistent,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “When you’ve got a back injury and you’re trying to avoid pain, you start doing things mechanically that you probably don’t even know you’re doing. Just to take a swing without any discomfort.”

After a four-hit day in Sunday’s 6-1 victory over the A’s with a pair of doubles, Moncada is hitting .339/.369/.565 over his last 17 games, and he said this is the best he has felt physically since before the World Baseball Classic.

“You think about that, you are frustrated,” Moncada said through an interpreter when asked if he doubted he would be this healthy again. “I was feeling very good before spring training and the World Baseball Classic, and then all that happened was a really rough patch. Yeah, you think about that. But hopefully that’s in the past, and hopefully it stays that way. I know that I have to keep working on my strength, and like I said, hopefully it stays that way.”

The recent offensive surge and another dazzling defensive play Sunday offer another tantalizing glimpse into what Moncada is capable of when healthy, but it’s too late to salvage a lost season for the Sox. With Jake Burger traded and any safety net removed for the final guaranteed year of Moncada’s contract next season, Grifol is touting the benefits of a healthy finish.

“It’s critical for him and us,” Grifol said. “Finish strong, finish healthy, go into an offseason where he won’t have to worry about any type of recovery or any type of rehab and just focus on getting stronger and preparing himself for 2024. It’s important for all these guys, just to go home healthy and get into the weight room and prepare themselves as opposed to having to rehab.”

Clevinger open to return

Mutual options are almost never picked up, but Mike -Clevinger’s contract with the Sox contains the possibility of the right-hander returning to the club in 2024 if both parties are interested in running it back for $12 million.

Clevinger’s tenure with the Sox is most remembered for an MLB investigation into domestic-abuse allegations, which ended without a suspension being levied. On the field, Clevinger missed six weeks with right biceps inflammation but holds a 3.32 ERA in 97‰ innings.

“I still love it here,” Clevinger said when asked about returning to the Sox next season. “We still have the tools to do something special here. That’s still down the road, kind of want to focus on finishing the rest of the season.”

Nastrini to Triple-A

After strong performances in his last two outings at Double-A Birmingham, prospect arm Nick Nastrini has been promoted to Triple-A Charlotte and is expected to make his Knights debut next week.

The centerpiece of a five-player trade with the Dodgers for Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly, the 23-year-old Nastrini had a 4.22 ERA in four starts at Birmingham with 31 strikeouts in 21„ innings.

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